The Coronavirus and Covid-19

The Coronavirus and Covid-19

I guess The Coronavirus and Covid-19 do not need an introduction anymore. The virus and the illness it brings are literally the enemies at the gates right now.

red and white flower petals
The Coronavirus (Photo by CDC on Unsplash)

We need to muster all resources to defeat this enemy and return to our normal lives. But normal should mean better lives for us all. A life where our systems work for all of us and not just to enrich the happy few. What that leads to is very clear, and it saddens me to see that happen. Now many hope this will happen after we have dealt with all this, but I am not that optimistic. I see some of our so-called top politicians slinging mud like the perfect narcissistic egos they are instead of focusing on the mission. Sad people, but if they act like this now, it holds little promise for the post-Corona crisis era.

The good news is that scientists, medical professionals, and the first line responders, as well as distribution, utility and sanitary services, are holding the line. Not only do they show more statesmanship than some politicians, but they also come into work and get at it. Many of them in low paying so-called essential or much needed but unimportant and undervalued jobs. But right now the focus is on fighting the Coronavirus and Covid-19. At least it is with all people who have common sense.

So what needs to be done?

Listen to the experts. Do your part. Act locally, think globally. I see people helping each other, self-isolating, practicing social distancing, taking care of the children and elderly while telecommuting from home. A friend of mine is working on protein folding and trying to predict the future mutations in order to see how that affects antibodies already found. Doctors and nurses taking care of my elderly mother keep coming to the house when needed. Despite the fact they had to remove their medical marking from their car to prevent theft of their medical masks and gloves. But the good so far is way more prevalent than the bad.

What do I do?

Personally, I heed all warnings and follow the advice of the quiet professionals in our medical and scientific community. I do not know any better just because I’m an IT architect who accidentally once in his life graduated as a Master in Biology (Zoology, Biochemistry, and Physiology) and did a sting as a research assistant. You might be smart and good, but this is not our area of expertise. And given the issue at hand, you should listen to those that master this field right now. That’s the WHO, the medical and the scientific community.

I am the caretaker of my elderly mother. It’s evident that I keep doing that. That means I self isolate strictly and work from home 100% to minimize risks to her and my loved ones.

I have increased monitoring and alertness for any kind of IT or security problem. My colleagues are doing that as well and handling the calls from many people less knowledgeable in IT matters that are struggling a bit to work from home. We are used to telecommuting and our operations have not missed a beat. We can deploy extra resources and having everything built redundantly gives a bit more peace of mind nowadays. The least we can do is not to make matters worse. We are at work spread out over the day so we have each other’s back and can help out. If all is going well we just keep working on other projects or tasks.

What did we lose?

Material stuff and experience. Conferences and travels got canceled. Money got lost. Spirits got a punch in the nose (for me missing the MVP Summit and quite possibly my vacation). However, that also means businesses and jobs in danger or already lost. But in comparison to the sick and deceased, nothing that we can’t cope with or fix. If you have your health and can work. Be happy about that and carry on.

A small helping hand

I also started helping my protein folding friends out with [email protected]. We stand together alone in our houses and places of work. But while in social isolation we collaborate on many fronts. Do your part where you can, but please leave the cloud resources alone. They are short in supply as we speak. For us, this is a time where our CAPEX model proves to be cheaper and more resilient than our OPEX model (yes we have both).

The Coronavirus and Covid-19
My workstation works on folding proteins while I relax
The Coronavirus and Covid-19
Putting some GPU resources to work fighting Corona

Last but not least I put a bear in front of our window for the kids who take a walk to spot and get happy about.

An action to help kids have fun and smile during the Coronavirus measures

Do your part. No matter how small it might seem. Your kindness, your extra effort, that one extra thing you do might make the difference for someone or for many. Remember, no matter how bad it looks or how depressed you feel, you can always quit later. Just not now, keep going. Together we can beat the Coronavirus and Covid-19.

My perspective on work and life

Introduction

What is so important about my perspective on work and life? Well, nothing at all unless you’re me. As an IT expert I spend way to much time in front of screens. It’s an occupational hazard. It’s not that I don’t talk to other people. I do, quite a lot. I do so for my work but also, a lot of the time, outside of my day job. That’s essential to prevent tunnel vision and echo chambers. But a big part of my time is spent working on projects (design, architecture, implementation). The remainder goes to assisting others, learning and experimenting or troubleshooting. That’s a never ending story, rinse and repeat. This never ending cycle which can lead to loss of perspective. Not just the loss of your professional perspective, but work & life wise. The rat race goes fast and in IT everything comes and goes faster than ever. You can work very hard and not get ahead. You might make lots of money but have no time to enjoy it. And it can all be over in a second.  You can spend you whole life working for something, just to have it taken away by illness, accident, natural or man made disaster or crime. Sobering thoughts, to say the least.

My perspective on work and life

While I love the IT business from silicon to the clouds I also adore the wonderful scenery that real clouds help create in the great outdoors.That’s why it’s good to take a break and go on a “walk about”. When looking out over the Grand Canyon, hiking in Yellow Stone valleys or in Great Basin with its 5000 year and older Bristlecone pines you can’t feel but insignificant. Both the big picture and over time. On a geological scale what’s a couple of million years any way, let alone less. So every now and then I get my proverbial behind out of the IT cloud, data center and out of the mind numbing open landscape offices. I go watch wild life, hike through landscapes formed by many hundreds of millions of years of natures forces at work.

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It’s a mind set where the little aid above, the GSA (American Geological Society) geologic time scale  becomes relevant to appreciate & try to understand the natural beauty around me.

Some advise

Don’t take life and work too serious, step out of the “rat race” now and then.  Changing my priorities and my perspective on work and life during time off is a good thing. During vacations it sure is a lot different during such periods. I love it. Seeing the Rocky Mountains scenery as you drive to a hike in a comfy Ford Explorer is a just magnificent.

My perspective on work and life

From the majestic Rockies & the Pacific North & South West, the views during a road trip are stunning. The hikes amazing & the serenity is soothing to the soul. I feel great when exploring them. Take a long week-end, go on a road trip, hike around and recharge your batteries. If you’re able to work remotely, do so and explore your local natural resources during your down time or breaks.

Get over that fear of missing out and realize that “promotions” or work are less important than yourself best interest. No one will pay you double  when you work twice as hard or give you back tour time. It’s a typical example of diminishing retruns. Remember that you don’t get a second life. Live this one. Don’t pointless rush through it from birth to death. You won’t be THAT rich and THAT famous (or infamous) enough to be remembered. You’ll probably be forgotten within one or two generations. So enjoy yourself a bit. Even when Rome does burn down during your absence, that’s were new empires can grow.

Microsoft MVP Award 2018-2019

I received the Microsoft MVP Award 2018-2019

While on vacation I received some excellent news. I received the Microsoft MVP Award 2018-2019. I’m an Microsoft Most Valuable Professional in the Cloud & Datacenter expertise for another year!

Dear Didier Van Hoye,
We’re once again pleased to present you with the 2018-2019 Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award in recognition of your exceptional technical community leadership. We appreciate your outstanding contributions in the following technical communities during the past year:

  • Cloud and Datacenter Management

Image result for microsoft mvp award

It’s a moment of appreciation of our work in the global community. I feel both proud an humble to be part of this select group of experts chosen to be recognized by Microsoft and be awarded the Microsoft MVP Award 2018-2019. Basically it puts a smile on my face.

What does this mean?

I have another year to look forward to as a Microsoft MVP. I’ll be sharing, teaching, discussing, designing and implementing the best possible solutions. I blog, write articles, engage in webinars and speak at conferences. I also help out fellow IT professionals and MVPs when and where possible. The community exist because we contribute, not just take. But I do know I can ask for help when I need it. A big thank you to all Microsoft employees I engage with. Your patience and willingness to listen to us, even when it might be “constructive feedback” and not always praise, helps us all. I appreciate the opportunity. One very nice success this year of such collaboration was to get ReFS support extended to many more use cases.

Every year I try to make it too some of the best and most interesting conferences to learn, exchange experiences, discuss and share knowledge as both a presenter and attendee. That take a bite out of my personal time budget and sometimes even my financial budget. Both of those have limits. But that is the investment I make in myself and the community. You cannot solely depend on your employer or job for your professional advancement. They have different agendas that don’t always align.  To broaden you horizon, prevent tunnel vision and (deadly) echo chambers you need to step out of your workplace cocoon. Luckily I’m blessed with the opportunity to attend & speak at conferences where travel and expenses get paid by the organizers.  That helps a lot.

Thank you for reading, for attending my sessions, for listening to the webinars I join as a subject matter expert. You help me be a better me. Being an MVP allows me to interact with very smart people around the globe. It lets me contribute to and learn from very interesting challenges and  projects. That exposure helps me grow as I help others. It allows me to provide even more well founded feedback to Microsoft. This mutual beneficial relationship is the core of community and what being a MVP is all about.

 

 

Goodbye 2017, welcome 2018!

Professional

We’re back at work for a couple of day now in 2018. Another year flew by. In 2017 we’ve been busy with letting Windows Server 2016 and Azure based solutions shine across the entire stack of compute, storage and networking. This allow various services and applications to deliver the best possible results on-premises and in the (hybrid) cloud / IAAS. In other words, pretty much what you’d expect a Microsoft Cloud & Datacenter MVP to be doing. The amount of time and money saved by having context, a goal and a plan to evolve your IT environment incrementally and keep it current cannot be ignored. It is significant.

Cloud wise, that word seems to have become whatever vendors / consultants / businesses want it to mean. Very convenient. There are (too) many ways in which cloud solutions are defined the various forms of cloud in an ever-bigger set of permutations. In the end it’s about the best possible solution for the needs at hand at the time you make the decision. Things change fast and we just try to make reasonable future proofed decisions. Sometimes that will be pure “serverless” such as Azure Function. Sometimes it is still very much some form of on-premises virtualization and anything in between. It doesn’t matter. All you need to do is support the organization to deliver what’s needed cost effectively and efficiently. In reality today, that means a lot of options are available. As long as you have a plan, don’t paint your business into a corner in any way and can manage the governance of what you’re doing it’s not too shabby. Especially not when compared too so many that are just being sold to and are just “doing” stuff in a copy / paste effort to avoid looking like they’re not on board with the buzz of “digital transformation”.

When I wear my CTO but perhaps even more the CEO/CIO/CFO role I really do like “serverless”. The big risk to manage today is the utter and gigantic lock-in this is and will remain for a while. That needs to be managed and can be managed as long as the benefits are there. Interestingly enough, many CxO still haven’t woken up to the biggest potential benefit but I almost never see mentioned. Too often people have blinders on. Whether this is due corporate inertia, political pressure or the tyranny of action driving them so seek out point solutions, it is a widely spread issue, a challenge we all face and one that will be with us for quite a while.

Anyway, the world is getting more and more mixed and diverse than ever and guiding organizations through that ever faster changing landscape is part of the job. Telling management what they need to hear over what they want to hear is part of that. Sometimes that works out well, sometimes not. The advice is always solid. But while I can lead the horse to water, I cannot make it drink. One is thing is for sure you cannot build standards, frameworks or platforms to success. Success cannot be bought either. Those are tools the manage past success more efficiently and hopefully more effectively.

Personal

My blog is still growing and, at well over 1 million views in 2017, according to my various WordPress statistics it’s doing better than ever in helping out the community at large. I’m quite happy about that. That’s what being a Microsoft MVP, a Veeam Vanguard, a Dell Community Rockstar and a Microsoft Extended Experts Team member is all about. Sharing and learning via blogging and community activities. I was able to present and attend various conferences to share experiences and knowledge. In return I got the opportunity to learn a lot and gain some insights into technical and market trends and developments. As part of those community activities I had more “practical” and “informal” strategy talks with various CIO/CTO role holders than before and that gave me a lot of insights in how businesses are dealing with IT anno 2017. It fluctuates between struggling and thriving, quite often in the same organization. My strength in those talks is that I don’t sell anything. No products, no company, not my time. It’s just a conversation based on insights, ideas and interests and community activity.

I’ve helped out a lot of colleagues & community buddies this year. That’s good. It helps look beyond the blinders of one own environment and that is always great learning experience. This helps to keep working interesting and fun while being productive. It’s a win-win situation.

Real Personal

Once in a while I raise toast to absent friends and fallen comrades. That list got a bit longer again this year as I lost my father. He had been through many personal health related challenges for many decades. That means I have taken more and longer care of my father than he did of me. That’s OK, one does what’s needed when and where needed even when one often feels that can never be enough. Life is not just about personal choices that are 100% under our own control, no matter how much people like to pretend it is. He doesn’t have to be afraid and in pain anymore. In that knowledge I have found solace. Keep in mind life is short and you don’t choose how you’ll end up. So, enjoy all your vacation days and learn to unwind once in a while. The world will keep turning despite you being out of office now and then.

Work

One thing was also a trend in 2017. More and more the recognition of my skills, value and abilities come from ever more diverse and globally dispersed directions. I can speculate on why that is, but I won’t. For now, I’m happy to know I’ve managed to stay employable. 2017 was also the year in which recruiters were more active than ever as the war for talent is on. The job market for skilled IT personnel is on fire it seems. A few recruiters did a good job by at least presenting themselves as having a clue, but many were literally so out of touch with reality it seemed that they can be replaced by AI at the current state of that technology in a heartbeat.

A few tips to all recruiters:

  • Read my Linkedin profile & blogs etc. It’s all out there. No, I’m not a Java programmer or a helpdesk jockey. The canned intros of “I read your profile and found you to be a great fit …” for a complete mismatch functions are way too often laughable and give me a very poor impression of the recruiter right from the start.
  • Give a good impression of the job role so I can evaluate quickly if it’s something I’d even consider. When that info is on the internet and you won’t share it, this is not making you look good.
  • Include a realistic minimum / maximum level of pay, secondary benefits, ability to telecommute … If that’s not even possible how can that role ever hold the status of an “opportunity of a live time” and why would I waste my time on figuring out if I’d be earning less, losing primary and/or secondary benefits. Be real people. Really, no one is looking to be worse off.
  • Don’t get mad at me if you contact me unsolicited and don’t get an answer when you don’t even have the courtesy to provide the above. I never asked you anything, remember that please. And if I do I hope I’ll be more to the point and direct I what I expect and need. I really dislike wasting my and your time.

Really, seriously, I mean this, the silly games that are way too often played are not worth my time. In a war for talent it seems this is a complete waste and indicates that the job market is (still) very much broken. Long commutes and fixed office hours that require long public transport commutes or being stuck in traffic, even in a salary or company car, are a waste of time and money. I don’t consider that a benefit. That being said, we all can hit bad times and I might need to take a pay cut, commute s long way, lose benefits etc. in my life time. But no one does this voluntarily. I have seen many of my peers grow into to better paid, interesting roles in 2017 on their own. Word of mouth & a network are key.

Looking forward to 2018

I have storage related projects, both on-premises and in the cloud or a mix of both in 2018. The combine high availability with data protection, scalability and accessibility in the best possible way I can find given the circumstances. I’m busy with strategies and mapping. By doing so I keep learning to help transition IT between the world of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Step by step. I also hope to attend and speak at 2 or 3 international conferences and learn even more form my peers.

So, goodbye 2017, welcome 2018! The new year is at our doorstep and we’ll let it in with a smile. I wish you all a great, fun, healthy and prosperous 2018.